Sunday :: May 22, 2005

Dan Okrent joins colleagues in the Society of Flat Earth Wankers (SOFEW)

by eriposte

Armando at Daily Kos points out the departing salvo of the New York Times' (effectively "former") Public Editor Dan Okrent, where Okrent takes a snipe at Paul Krugman. Armando says "Okrent stunk up the joint as NYTimes Ombudsman." Okrent's piece titled "13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did" is here (and I see that Jesse at Pandagon has briefly commented on it too).

I'm not going to address the attack on Krugman, but one of the other "things" Okrent wrote about caught my attention -- his non-regret regret over one of his previous columns "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" which he opened with the sound-bite statement "Of course it is" (speaking solely about its coverage on a few social issues). All one needs to do to understand Okrent's thinking process is read a segment in that column criticizing the Times' reporting on the gay rights issue :

The gay marriage issue provides a perfect example. Set aside the editorial page, the columnists or the lengthy article in the magazine ("Toward a More Perfect Union," by David J. Garrow, May 9) that compared the lawyers who won the Massachusetts same-sex marriage lawsuit to Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King. That's all fine, especially for those of us who believe that homosexual couples should have precisely the same civil rights as heterosexuals.

But for those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it's disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading...
[The Times'] implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn't appeared. Apart from one excursion into the legal ramifications of custody battles ("Split Gay Couples Face Custody Hurdles," by Adam Liptak and Pam Belluck, March 24), potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter.

And what are these "potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage" that were not covered by the Times (even though other newspapers covered some of these) thereby leaving the Times' coverage 'unbalanced'?

  • A scholar's testimony that "gay marriage in the Netherlands has had a deleterious effect on heterosexual marriage"
  • The "potential impact of same-sex marriage on tax revenues"
  • The "paucity of reliable research on child-rearing in gay families"
  • "Partner abuse in the gay community"
  • "Social difficulties that might be encountered by children of gay couples or about divorce rates (or causes, or consequences) among the 7,000 couples legally joined in Vermont since civil union was established there four years ago"

I guess Mr. Okrent does not seem to realize that heterosexual marriage or lack thereof can also have a "deleterious effect on heterosexual marriage" (one's own or on others'). Heterosexual marriage also has an "impact on tax revenues". "Partner abuse" is quite common in the heterosexual community. Children of heterosexual married or divorced parents often face many social difficulties. Moreover, if there is a paucity of "reliable research on child-rearing in gay families" it's because we haven't allowed (m)any "gay families" - and it's not the fault of gays that there aren't a whole lot of "gay families" to research. The point is that none of these "effects" are used as arguments to question the government's legalization of heterosexual marriage. Yet, the brilliant Mr. Okrent thinks they are required to "balance" a discussion on gay rights or gay marriage - and that the absence of such "balance" proves the Times' "liberal" bias on this topic.

In honor of his printing yet more mind-numbing stupidity on the pages of the Times, Okrent earns his membership in the Society of Flat Earth Wankers (SOFEW).

eriposte :: 8:44 AM :: Comments (7) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!